Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 39

Making the Priestly Garments

by

Today's Text: Exodus 39:1-43, Psalm 110:1-4, Hebrews 5:1-10

Scripture Reading: Exodus 39:1-43, Psalm 110:1-4, Hebrews 5:1-10

I believe with all my heart that these detailed descriptions of the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus are as much the inspired Word of God as my favorite psalm. But for a free-spirited, color-outside-the-lines kind of girl like me, the sheer number of details recorded in these chapters gives me flashbacks to my freshman accounting class.  

Why did the Lord instruct Moses to build altars and tables, lampstands and basins, tunics and turbans with such extreme attention to detail? Why were these details recorded so meticulously? All these centuries later, what do they have to teach us about the character of God and our relationship with Him?

Let’s zero in for a moment on Exodus 39, where we find the description of the priestly garments. This was more than a garment. With gold and stones, bells and crowns, this was an ensemble made to take our breath away. But why? Aaron’s robes weren’t designed to turn heads at Fashion Week. They wouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder. So why was such detailed extravagance needed?

Peel away the layers, and we find the answer in a single thread. The scarlet thread mentioned over and over in Exodus 39 is the same thread that is stitched throughout all of God’s Word. It is the thread God used to sew together garments of grace for Adam and Eve after the fall (Genesis 3:21). It is the thread that signaled salvation from Rahab’s window (Joshua 2:18). And most significantly, we see it at the cross, as trails of blood stream down our Savior’s face as evidence of His atonement for our sins.

Aaron’s priestly garments were woven with red thread, a picture of the gospel illustrated by the thread of salvation woven throughout all of God’s Word. The weight of the robe covered with stones was symbolic of the burden of sin; as Aaron slipped it on, I imagine its heaviness reminded him of the weight of his own sin and of ours. The crown on the priest’s head was a shadow of the crown of salvation purchased for us at Christ’s cross.

The garment maker couldn’t have known it, but he was preaching the gospel. Stitch by meticulous stitch, he was proclaiming salvation was near. Through the lens of the cross we see these extravagant robes showcase an extravagant gospel.

It’s possible the craftsmen tasked with the minutiae of the tabernacle felt overwhelmed and even belabored by the tedium of so many details. Obedience can often feel like that. As we shepherd our own children, or serve in other often thankless ways, or pull out our Bibles listening for God’s voice again and again, there are times when we all wonder, Why does all of this matter?

The answer rarely seems to come in the moment, but in hindsight we see that routine obedience to the Lord always reveals the gospel thread. He is using our seemingly small acts of surrender to transform these filthy rags into robes of righteousness. As we trust and obey, we can look back and sigh with gratitude, saying, “as the LORD had commanded, so [we have] done it” (Exodus 39:43).

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • Christie Algeo

    ❤️❤️

  • Darci Thompson

    I am catching up from getting behind on my readings this week. I was feeling disheartened because I want to go to Palm Sunday service, but we were hit by s blizzard last night and I don’t want to take my baby outside in the cold. As I sit here and feed my daughter scrambled eggs, we are listening to our devotional on audio. The paragraph about “Why does all of this matter?” . . . Oh, that caught my heart!! As a stay-at-home mom, I hear that phrase in my head more often than I would like to admit. My baby girl is joyfully chirping in her high chair, eggs are on the floor and all over her face, my coffee is cold, but THIS matters! The brief prayers I utter throughout the day; they matter. The prayer I say with my 9-month-old before we eat; it matters. Being kind and patient throughout my day as a model for her; this matters. My actions matter. I am in the middle of moving to a different town and with a baby, have not been able to faithfully go to church and have struggled to get involved more at our church, but the friendships I have made with other moms; these matter. I am still getting use to this season of life. Some days are hard…really hard. But, I love it. Thank you, Father, for speaking to me today. And thanks to this SRT community. ❤️

  • Thank you, Erin. Your words really spoke to my heart. I am a few days behind but I loved this study.

  • Peony Noirr

    ❤️

  • Merari Washington

    This whole new insight has bought tears to my eyes. Oh how much we need Yashua and how we have missed and overlooked so many details of him because we diligent in our reading but not reading seeing him in every passage! Thanks for sharing! I’m overwhelmed with joy and humbled by how much more I need to grow in Him! God bless you with more kingdom revelation!

  • I LOVED all of the symbolism you pointed out, I was in awe. “Routine obedience” yes please!
    Thank you!!

  • Kristi L

    Throughout Exodus 39, I kept noticing the phrase “as the Lord commanded Moses.” The Israelites obeyed God continuously during the process of building the tabernacle, down to even the smallest detail.

    Their continuous obedience struck me because I realized that God desires this kind of obedience from me too. I am His dwelling place and He is transforming me day by day into something beautiful, holy, and sacred, like the tabernacle. But this is not a passive experience. My obedience is required throughout the process, even in the small things.

    So often I resort to doing things my way instead of listening for God’s voice, but God has been reminding me that His ways are higher than mine. The work the Israelites had to do to build the tabernacle was extremely tedious and required a lot of sacrifice – of their time, their energy, their possessions… I wonder if some days they were tempted to quit. But these last few chapters of Exodus have shown me that doing things God’s way brings about a beautiful result in the end. The blessing cannot come without the obedience (Exodus 39:43).

  • These reflections have become necessary reading for me as I, like others have mentioned, am burdened my the minutia of details given. The connections to salvation are not always obvious and so this additional reading is necessarily helpful. The ephod in itself has stirred up so much for me. The scarlet yarn interwoven with blue (water, of which gushed forth from the side of Jesus. Baptism, renewal, cleansing, rebirth), purple (royalty), gold (the finest of all metals, highly esteemed, valuable, often the root of sin) illustrates our own journey toward slavation. The blood shed throughout all of history for monetary gain and the reminder of the inevitable cleansing that follows. All of it leads us back to the one true King, that has been present among us all along.

  • While I was reading the scriptures today I wonder about some of the jewels I had never had heard of. So instead of skimming over them and moving on I looked them up. All of them were beautiful gems. I did notice also one thing, all of the gems are of the same color scheme as the Holy garments – blue, purple, and scarlet some even were a gold tone – it made me realize how oriented to details God really is and how the little things do matter to Him.

  • Reading this passage made me think of my wedding not so long ago! We did everything ourselves for our beautiful outdoor garden reception. It didn’t start out beautiful though because the yard and garden were overgrown. I remember the tedious hard work me and my husband to be did everyday trying to cut out the weeds and tidy up the area. As it took shape we got more and more excited, to make every detail just perfect to the food table, (every dish, the exact position I wanted it!) to the wishing well, to the entrance, to the lights and chandeliers hung….so many details!!! (We were worn out when it finally came to wedding and had both lost weight!) But we wanted everyone to see how special we wanted it all to be, and notice the small things to the whole feeling of the party. Makes me thing of how they must have felt putting it all together, tedious, yet the anticipation of how it would all glorify their GOD!!! I love getting a whole new perspective on Exodus…thanks for this study SRT!!

    • Dorothy

      This is giving me a new perspective on Exodus also. I believe I mentioned a couple of days ago I am doing a devotional by Beth Moore and she is talking about David. She had talked about the ark and verses in 2 Samuel where they were moving it. I now can visualize how heavy and beautiful it is.

  • I especially love the line about God transforming our filthy rags into robes of righteousness!! That literally brought chills to my arms and a tear to my eyes.

  • Every day I saw Wow to these lessons— but the scarlet thread! Wow!! Ditto everything everyone has said—- thank you SRT staff— thank you to each of you that post your thoughts. God is good! As we attend the funeral of a faithful servant today— these words are especially meaningful.

  • As a quilter, I find these details fascinating and get caught up in the imaginary of what items looked like. For those interested here is a video I found that helped me visualize the garments. I was rather amused by the use of a sewing machine in the video, but even that makes me remember that all of these things were made only by hands, with talent given by God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mznSvWsv0Xc

    • Emma

      Thank you for the link, Cindy! I’ve really been enjoying putting the details together and imagining what each of these splendid objects looked like, so it was great to see the garments and listen to the passage being read at the same time!

    • Bessie

      Thank you for posting this link. I really enjoyed the visual description of the garments. It is hard for me to imagine how they would look from reading it. It strikes me how humble really the tabernacle is compared to the extravagant cathedrals of today, but God is there and that makes it the most spectacular cathedral of all!

    • Sarabeth

      Thank you for the link.

  • Gwendolyn Wheat

    I never had thought about the descriptions this way before. But the Gospel is running all throughout it. How amazing!

  • Aubri Lutz

    I’m so thankful for this perspective. I tend to zone out at these verses too but I the devotional made me go back read again and appreciate it for something new. The Gospel and how it writes salvation all through the Bible!

  • Laurie Rose

    I would love to know how the individuals felt as they saw what they produced, being equipped by God to create these things. Were they in awe and worshipping him the entire time, recognizing his gifts, or did they sin for thinking they did it in their own?

  • I loved this devotion and I am loving all of your comments. I’m going to go home and take notes on all of them. I am an artist and high school art teacher. Details are important to me, but so is being able to see the big picture. I have found myself so caught up in getting all the details right that I lose sight of what I am trying to create. I get stressed and start losing the joy in creating. I have learned when I start getting frustrated that I need to step back and look at the whole picture. Sometimes I realize that I’m done. There’s nothing else I need to do. And, other times I can see where I need to make changes or what I need to add, which part of the art needs some work.
    I have found the same to be true in my daily walk with God. Sometimes I get so caught up in getting the details right that I loose sight of what God is really calling me to do. I loose my joy and start seeing it as mundane and drudgery and “Oh, my goodness. Do I really have to do this?” This devotion was a wonderful lesson in finding joy in the details, but not forgetting the big picture lesson of what God is wanting to do with and through His children.
    Be blessed, sweet sisters!

  • Janet Caldwell

    This was a beautiful devotion today. Thanks so much Erin for this new insight on the gospel through the details of the priestly garments.

  • This was beautiful! Thank you!

  • OH MY GOSH what a connection! An obvious one I’m sure many of us haven’t made yet. Erin, thank you for this! That scarlet thread, woven throughout history. These passages just developed an entirely new meaning for me. Thank you!!

  • Melissa Stewart

    I realize that God was equally meticulous in creating each one of his children, giving each of us our own DNA and a thousand other differences. As we look at each other, may we see and appreciate the careful attention he paid in creating each of us.

  • Katelynn Barlowe

    Let us never weary of doing good – continuing to love that person who just takes and takes, having patience with that toddler who pushes you to the breaking point, working at the thankless tasks of your job day after day, reading the Word when you hear nothing. May our obedience in the small things teach us the practice of surrender. May they teach ourselves and others about the beauty of Jesus’ gospel. May they produce a harvest of righteousness in this sowing and reaping world.

    • Kelly Chataine

      Yes, the prayer, my prayer, the prayers of many focus on not growing weary in well doing. We do, well, I do grow weary at times. My obedience feels cumbersome just like those garments must have been. We seek God’s forgiveness. Follow Christ’s example. Lean on the Holy Spirit’s power. And yes, may our acts of obedience produce a harvest of righteousness.
      Thanks for sharing!

    • Caroline Odom

      I needed to read this. Thank you for sharing!

    • Courtney

      I needed this today. As I find myself struggling with trying to keep up with the tedious tasks of each day of life. Being pulled in so many directions, may we all find a positive attitude towards each intricate part of our days. Obeying His word. It all matters so much to Him. Every little detail!

  • Christie Layne

    This is such an awesome read. I have never giving all these details this much attention. Never realized there importance they have, till now. To see all this unfold is breath taking. It is opening my eyes to more detail in my walk with my Lord. God never ceases to amaze me with his power. Every detail down to the number of hairs on your head. That is why I for the life of me cannot figure out how some people don’t acknowledge him in their lives. But I have to remind myself, I also used to be just like that. Now I seek to get closer to him. It is never enough. Makes my heart want to burst.

  • Missy Wang

    Just shows us how detailed God is in everything He does.

  • Heather Ward

    Following the Lord in the minutia and the routine. It is sometimes easy to forget the importance of this in a culture that values grand gestures and attention. Obedience in getting up early to read and pray even when my body screams “more sleep!!!” Obedience in slowing down my day to take time to minister to someone when God whispers “She needs this.” Obedience in putting others first. Obedience in shutting up and listening to God. These are things that others would rarely even notice, but God does.

  • Wow! Today’s lesson really opened my eyes to seeing how God has woven that scarlet thread through His word. The symbolism is incredible! Thank you so much for pointing this out Erin! I have often wondered about why God chose to be so detailed in these descriptions too, and thought it was to show us that He is a God of details, that He knows and cares about every little thing in our lives, but this new perspective is also another way to see God’s amazing handiwork through our acts of obedience and surrender. Praise to our glorious Father!!!

  • Tricia Cavanaugh

    Sorry, wasn’t quite done. As we work to share Jesus with others. We also should be meticulous in what we say and do to further His kingdom.

  • Tricia Cavanaugh

    I cannot imagine having to work so meticulously in making all the Lord commanded. Can you imagine the weight on one’s shoulders? But, shouldn’t we feel some of that weight today, as we Work meticulously to share jesus

  • Churchmouse

    It would be a good thing for one’s tombstone to say “She did all that the Lord commanded.” It would be a wonderful thing if those gathered around that tombstone were witnesses to a life that had pointed them to the Cross. Faith and obedience: a life well-lived.

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